Advent Day 11: The Blessing of Wrestling with God

Jacob runs for his life after lying and conniving to steal his brother’s birthright. And big brother Esau is in hot pursuit after him. 

“Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 

Gen. 27:41

What it Looks Like to Wrestle with God

Following the instruction of his parents, Jacob flees from his brother in search of a wife from his parent’s homeland. It is here, in this journey, that we begin to see a transformation of Jacob take place. Read Genesis 29-31.

Two wives and twenty years later, our story continues in Genesis 32. Jacob is returning home to Canaan with his tribe of people (wife 1 & 2, eleven sons, one daughter, and two female servants–whew, a crew). The fierce rush of adrenaline rapidly descends upon him as he encounters his estranged brother once again. Unfortunately, it appears as if his brother’s anger has not resided. Esau has gathered an army of 400 men (Genesis 32:6).

The doubt and questioning ensue. “But God…you said.When the wheels start falling off the bus, how quickly we are to blame God. We often assume the will of God translates into a life of ease and comfort. However, God often leads us into difficult waters to teach us to keep our eyes steadfast on Him.

Living a Life of Surrender

It is tempting to seek God’s direction more so than seeking God Himself. We freak out when problems arise, as is the case for our dear friend Jacob. We argue with God. We doubt. Rather than allowing the frustration to be an opportunity to experience the presence of God. 

We must constantly maintain the far superior privilege of knowing God over merely getting something from Him or implementing an action plan….Reorient your focus. Don’t bypass the relationship because you’d rather have answers to your questions.

Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God (p. 107)

Jacob thought he was running from Esau.

But discovered he was running from God instead.

Read Genesis 32:22-32. This strange encounter seems relatively unusual at first glance. What we see is a wrestling match between Jacob and a stranger, who winds up being God Himself. Jacob begins the encounter encapsulated with fear and dread about seeing his brother and winds up fighting for a blessing over his life. When God decides the fight is done, he dislocates Jacob’s hip and demands to be let go. 

Is it Okay to Question God?

Jacob refuses to say, “I will not let you go unless you bless me (v.26).”

This persistent attitude pleases God and He responds, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob [deceiver], but Israel [strives with God] for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed (v. 28).”

Pay close attention. When Jacob entered the wrestling floor, he was hesitant to meet his brother Esau. He was restless and afraid. However, after a night of wrestling it out with God, his attention turned to God’s Word…a word of promise and blessing.

The same is true for us. In our seasons of uncertainty, we can take our requests and questions and fears and yes, anger to God. We can wrestle with God through our challenging times. The ultimate result is for our good–a humbled spirit and peace with God. When God calls you to the wrestling floor…it is an invitation to receive His blessing. Don’t give up until He blesses you!

What do you need today? How desperate are you for it? Will you wrestle with God to receive a blessing?

Suggested Reading: Will you Wrestle with God by Jon Bloom